The focus of that Eddie Mair interview was the question of Boris Johnson’s fitness for further office. There was no real discussion of how well he has actually done in his current job as Mayor of London.
In the earnest spirit of inquiry I recently tabled a question in the House of Lords:
“To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have received from the Mayor of London in the last year on (1) health services in London, (2) housing provision in London, and (3) the impact of changes in welfare benefits on the people of London.[HL5797]“
The response I got was as follows:
“The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): The Department of Health has held a number of discussions over the last year with the Greater London Authority, London Councils and the Local Government Association about the London Health Improvement Board. We recognise that there is potential for delivering health improvement services on a city-wide basis in London. The London Health Improvement Board has been meeting since July 2011.
The Localism Act conferred on the Mayor of London responsibility for housing, economic development and Olympic legacy in London, in addition to existing responsibilities over transport, planning and the police. Therefore, the mayor is responsible for housing and regeneration policy in London. The Department for Communities and Local Government has regular conversations with the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority regarding housing provision in London. Over the last year these conversations have focused on a broad range of issues, such as funding and delivery of affordable housing, increasing investment in the private rented sector, getting surplus public sector land back into use and dealing with homelessness and rough sleeping.”
The answer is notable in what it does not say.
There is no indication that the Mayor has spoken up on behalf of Londoners about the state of London’s NHS and the piecemeal closure of services that is taking place all over the capital. I doubt whether the remit of the London Health Improvement Board covers the configuration of health services in London and I have asked another question to clarify this.
And there was no mention whatsoever in the answer (despite its specific inclusion in the question) of any representations made by the Mayor on the impact of changes in welfare benefits on the people of London.
Boris Johnson has made plenty of public statements about not being nasty to bankers and the iniquities of high tax rates but apparently has little to say about the cuts in welfare and housing benefits that hundreds of thousands of Londoners will face in the next few weeks.
I wanted to seek further clarification from the Government by asking:
“Further to WA 5797, does the absence to a reference to representations from the Mayor of London in respect of changes in welfare benefits on the people of London mean that there were no such representations”
but have been told that that would be against the rules.
Instead, I have asked again what representations the Government has had from the Mayor specifically on the subject of impact of changes to welfare benefits on the people of London.
I await the answer, but I expect I know it already: Boris Johnson is more concerned about the very wealthy and about big bonus bankers than those who have to rely on what is left of our social security system.